This spicy chicken bulgogi recipe is served in lettuce cups and is the perfect easy 15-minute weeknight dinner. The chicken is super flavorful, juicy, and coated in a sticky Korean BBQ gochujang sauce.
The best chicken bulgogi recipe
This is one of my all-time favorite Asian-inspired recipes. I love teriyaki chicken and orange chicken, but these spicy chicken bulgogi lettuce wraps are next level. They are easy to make, super flavorful, and fun to eat!
The chicken breast pieces are juicy and coated in a sticky savory-sweet Korean BBQ bulgogi sauce made from soy sauce, gochujang Korean chili paste, rice wine, garlic, and red chili flakes for a spicy kick.
This recipe is served on a bed of white or brown rice inside a lettuce cup, which makes it a filling and nourishing meal. Seriously, this chicken bulgogi recipe is so delicious.
We love making this recipe weekly since it takes less than 15 minutes. You can even serve at a party with friends to impress your guests. Everyone will love this fun and flavorful dish!
Why you’ll love this recipe:
- Quick & Easy: This recipe is ready in under 15 minutes.
- High Protein: There are over 28 grams of protein per serving.
- Spicy: The Korean BBQ sauce is sweet and spicy. Don’t worry, you can control the heat level.
- Gluten-Free: Easily make this chicken bulgogi gluten-free by using tamari instead of soy sauce.
- Meal Prep: Chicken bulgogi is perfect for meal prep since it keeps in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Lettuce Wraps: We made this recipe lighter and healthy by serving the bbq chicken in lettuce wraps with brown rice.
- Similar Recipe: If you loved this recipe, try these honey sriracha brussel sprouts or this gluten-free chicken pad Thai next!
There are two parts to this chicken bulgogi recipe: (1) the chicken and (2) the lettuce wraps. Here is a list of ingredients so you have everything prepared:
Chicken + Lettuce Wraps:
- Chicken: First, you need 1 pound (or 2 – 3 pieces) of skinless and boneless chicken breast. Cut them into 1-inch bite-sized pieces, so filling your lettuce tacos is easy. You can also use chicken thigh.
- Olive Oil: To saute the onion and chicken pieces. You can also use avocado oil.
- Yellow Onion: Grab 1 small yellow onion for a sweet and sharp taste. Substitute with white or sweet onion, if needed.
- Butter (Bibb) Lettuce: To make our lettuce cups, we need 1 head of butter lettuce.
- Rice: I love rice! Add 1 cup of cooked white or brown rice to your chicken bulgogi lettuce tacos.
- Green Onions: Make for the perfect garnish. They’re also called scallions.
- Sesame Seeds: Optional, but I love adding a sprinkle of sesame seeds on top of this spicy chicken bulgogi.
Homemade Bulgogi Sauce:
- Low-Sodium Soy Sauce: First up, grab low-sodium soy sauce for the base of this delicious, homemade sweet and savory bulgogi sauce. If you are gluten-free, use Tamari.
- Water: This helps thin the sauce out.
- Gochujang Korean Chili Paste: 1 Tablespoon of Gochujang goes a long way flavorwise. It adds the most delicious, authentic taste to these lettuce cups.
- Garlic Cloves: Add in minced garlic cloves for the best taste.
- Ginger: Plus, freshly grated ginger for flavor. You can use 1 teaspoon of ground ginger as a substitute.
- Red Chilli Flakes: Add 1 – 3 teaspoons of red chili flakes to make this chicken bulgogi spicy. It all depends on how spicy you want it, so start with 1 teaspoon, taste the sauce, then add more.
- Rice Vinegar: For a little acidity. Feel free to substitute with white wine vinegar.
- Sesame Oil: 1 teaspoon of sesame oil packs a flavor puck and makes this sauce taste super authentic.
- Honey: Based on your desired sweetness level. You can also use maple syrup.
- Arrowroot or Tapioca Starch: Just 1 teaspoon of arrowroot, corn, or tapioca starch to help thicken this homemade bulgogi sauce.
Is chicken bulgogi spicy?
The level of spiciness in this chicken bulgogi recipe is up to you! Add up to 1 Tablespoon of red chili flakes to make it extra spicy. If you don’t like spice, then leave the red chili flakes off.
How to make spicy chicken bulgogi lettuce wraps
This one-pot spicy chicken bulgogi recipe is easy to make in under 15 minutes! The chicken is sweet, spicy, sticky, and delicious. Any level cook can make it. Here are step-by-step instructions with pictures:
First, heat a large saute pan with olive oil to medium-high. Add onion and saute for 1 – 2 minutes until translucent. Then, add the chicken pieces and cook for 6 – 7 minutes total, until no longer pink on the outside.
Meanwhile, whisk together soy sauce, water, gochujang chili paste, minced garlic, grated ginger, vinegar, sesame oil, honey, and arrowroot starch in a medium bowl.
RECIPE TIP: start with 1 tsp of red chili flakes, taste the sauce after simmering, and add more if you want it spicier.
Once the chicken is ready, reduce the heat to low and pour the bulgogi sauce on top of the chicken. Stir to combine and simmer on low until the sauce thickens slightly – for about 2 – 5 minutes. Taste and add more red chili flakes, if desired.
Meanwhile, wash lettuce; then break off all large leaves and place them on a paper towel to dry. Then, add a few spoonfuls of rice to each lettuce cup and top with warm chicken, sliced green onions, and sesame seeds. Enjoy this spicy chicken bulgogi recipe!
- Control the spice: I recommend starting with 1 teaspoon of red chili flakes. Taste the sauce after simmering, and then add more if you want it to be spicier.
- Simmer the sauce on low: This is super important. Ensure the heat is low, or your sweet and spicy bulgogi sauce will burn.
- Serve in lettuce cups: I love serving chicken bulgogi in lettuce cups for a filling yet healthy meal.
- Use chicken thighs or breasts: You can use either! Chicken breast is a leaner source of prtoen, while chicken thighs are juicier and contain a little extra fat.
- Cleaning the pan: This sticky sauce can get stuff to your pan after cooking. For an easy cleanup, I recommend soaking the pay in warm water for 1 hour then lightly scrubbing with a non-abrasive sponge. It works like a charm every time!
What to serve with Korean bbq chicken:
- Lettuce Wraps: try serving your spicy chicken bulgogi in lettuce wraps with some rice.
- Bowls: make a Korean-style bowl with rice, Korean bbq chicken, kimchi, and scallions.
- Kimchi: This spicy and tangy fermented cabbage is a staple in Korean cuisine and pairs exceptionally well with the rich flavors of BBQ chicken.
- Steamed Rice: A simple bowl of steamed white rice or even fried rice goes super well with Korean bbq chicken.
- Pickled Vegetables: For a crunchy and tangy contrast, try serving it with pickled radishes, cucumbers, or other vegetables.
- Cucumber Salad: A light cucumber salad with a sesame or soy-based dressing is delicious.
- Stir-Fried Vegetables: We love serving it with stir-fried vegetables like bell peppers, carrots, mushrooms, peas, and onions.
- Seaweed Salad: A light and nutritious seaweed salad is always a safe bet.
- Noodle Bowls: Serve your bulgogi chicken with a simple sesame noodle bowl.
Frequently Asked Questions & Answers
Is this recipe healthy?
Yes, I consider this chicken bulgogi recipe to be healthy for a few reasons. First, it is high in lean protein since we use chicken breast. Second, we use honey to naturally sweeten our homemade bulgogi sauce, not cane sugar. Third, we serve it in lettuce wraps with a scoop of rice. Fourth, it is gluten-free and dairy-free.
What is the best lettuce for lettuce cups and tacos?
Butter lettuce, also known as Bibb lettuce, is the best kind to use for lettuce cups and tacos. However, you can also try Iceberg, Boston, or little gem.
Can I make it low-carb?
To make this recipe low carb, just leave off the rice and use cooked cauliflower rice or Right Rice.
Can I use chicken thigh?
You can use chicken thigh instead of the chicken breast in this recipe. I recommend buying skinless and boneless chicken thighs so they are easy to cut up.
Can i grill chicken bulgogi?
Yes, here are instructions on how to grill the chicken. First, brush the hot grill with oil. Then, place the marinated chicken on top. If you are using chicken breast, grill each side for 7 – 8 minutes per side (until the chicken is cooked through). If you are using chicken thighs, grill each side for 3 – 4 minutes (until cooked through).
Can I make it less spicy?
If you do not like spice, leave off the red chili flakes.
Can I serve chicken bulgogi in a bowl, not in lettuce wraps?
Yes! Feel free to serve this chicken bulgogi in a rice or noodle bowl with roasted or steamed vegetables.
What is chicken bulgogi?
Bulgogi, or Korean beef barbecue, is traditionally made with thin slices of rib-eye coated in a savory and slightly sweet sauce made from soy sauce, gochujang, honey, rice wine, and a few other ingredients. We use chicken breast in this bulgogi recipe instead of beef, making it leaner and still high in protein.
How to store and reheat leftovers:
Storing: For best results, keep leftover spicy chicken bulgogi in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 4 days. Store the rice and lettuce wraps separately.
Reheating: Reheat in the chicken microwave for 45 – 90 seconds until warm, or on the stovetop. Reheat the rice in the microwave. Keep the lettuce wraps cold.
If you loved this recipe, try these next!
- Air Fryer Teriyaki Chicken
- Asian Chicken Meatballs
- 15-Minute Chicken Pad Thai
- Teriyaki Turkey Meatballs
- Honey Soy Chicken Thigh Skewers
Did you make this recipe?
If you make this recipe, be sure to comment and rate it down below. Also, don’t forget to tag me @healthfulblondie on Instagram and use the hashtag #healthfulblondie so I can see your delicious creation and share it with my followers!
Spicy Chicken Bulgogi Recipe
- 1 pound chicken breast, skinless and boneless, cut into 1-inch bite-size pieces
- 1 – 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 head butter lettuce
- 1 cup white or brown rice, cooked
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 Tbsp sesame seeds, optional topping
- ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1–2 Tbsp cold water
- 1 Tbsp gochujang Korean chili paste
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
- 1 – 3 tsp red chili flakes, based on desired spiciness
- 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 – 2 Tbsp honey, based on your desired sweetness level
- 1 tsp arrowroot or tapioca starch, or cornstarch
- Heat a large saute pan with olive oil to medium-high. Add onion and saute for 1 – 2 minutes, until translucent.
- Add chicken pieces and cook for 6 – 7 minutes total, until no longer pink on the outside.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, water, gochujang chili paste, minced garlic, grated ginger, red chili flakes, vinegar, sesame oil, honey, and arrowroot starch. TIP: start with 1 tsp of red chili flakes, taste the sauce after simmering, and add more if you want it spicier.
- Once the chicken is ready, reduce the heat to low and pour the bulgogi sauce on top of the chicken. Stir to combine and simmer on low until the sauce thickens slightly – for about 2 – 5 minutes. Taste and add more red chili flakes, if desired. NOTE: make sure the heat is on low, or the sauce will burn.
- Meanwhile, wash lettuce. Then break off all large leaves and place them on a paper towel to dry.
- Add a few spoonfuls of rice to each lettuce cup, top with warm chicken, sliced green onions, and sesame seeds. Enjoy!
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